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Flint water crisis settlement claims process begins this week

Steve Carmody
Michigan Radio

Starting this week, tens of thousands of people in Flint can begin filing damage claims as part of a $626 million settlement of civil lawsuits in the Flint water crisis.

In 2014, the city of Flint’s drinking water source was switched from Detroit’s water system to the Flint River. But the river water was not properly treated. The improperly treated water damaged city pipes releasing lead and other contaminants into the drinking water. The water source was switched back in late 2015.

The state of Michigan is putting up $600 million of the settlement tied to the city’s lead-tainted drinking water. The city of Flint is contributing $20 million. The remaining money is coming from McLaren Flint hospital and Rowe Professional Services.

There are 30 different categories people can use to apply for damages.

Michael Pitt is the co-lead counsel in the settlement. He says 21 of the categories apply only to children, who are most at-risk of long-term health problems tied to lead exposure.

“Eighty percent of the settlement funds are going toward the children who have been injured as a result of what happened in Flint,” said Pitt during a zoom conference last week.

The settlement also provides compensation for adults with health issues and suffering economic or property losses.

More than 50,000 registered claimants have until the middle of May to file documents needed to qualify for a share of the settlement. The timetable for paying claims is unclear, as is the amount people can expect to receive.

This is only a partial settlement of outstanding claims connected to the Flint water crisis.

Lawsuits against two engineering firms and the federal Environmental Protection Agency remain in the courts.

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